PANAMA CITY – If director Skip Bondur had been asked in 2012 if Stuff The Bus would have 100,000 donated toys, he would have said it wouldn’t happen by 2020.
Stuff The Bus is holding its ninth annual toy drive and is approaching 100,000 toys donated since its first drive. Bondur generally follows the number, but this year he doesn’t know how many toys have been donated because his enthusiasm could tell people how close they are to the 100,000 mark.
More (2017):Skip Bondur launches annual campaign to fill the bus with toys
Bondur declined to donate a total number of toys for previous workouts in order to keep the surprise factor in play.
“We’re having a big party, so for the person who brings in the 100,000th toy, we’ve got some cool prizes,” Bondur said. “Coca-Cola is giving them a year of Coca-Cola, Tracy’s Fine Jewelry is giving us a watch for her and for her, Sweat Shak is giving away a six month subscription. We just have this really cool prize pack for the person bringing the 100,000th toy. “
Bondur added that Sunglass World will also offer a prize for the 100,000th toy.
The Stuff The Bus toy drive started a little earlier this year as people may not be able to donate as many toys due to the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. After Hurricane Michael in 2018, communities outside of Bay County donated toys to help, but the whole country is affected by the pandemic this year.
Stuff The Bus started at Walmart in Lynn Haven on Black Friday, moved to Piggly Wiggly on 15th Street on Wednesday, and will be installed at Piggly Wiggly at 8012 County 2301 on Thursday. On Saturday, Bondur will prepare to camp at the Walmart on 23rd Street until December 16.
Although he says the goal is 10 days, there is a twist to that.
“I won’t get off the roof of the bus until I hit our target and that’s 10,000 toys, 1,000 pairs of shoes and 10,000 pounds of food for the kids in Bay County,” Bondur said. “By the way, I have a pregnant woman who is due on December 26th, so going to bed in 10 days will be a great and great thing.”
Bondur recalled the first year of collecting toys and how he viewed it as a failure as they had less than 2,000 toys. He couldn’t fill the bus the way he wanted.
He now looks at it from another angle. His organization was able to provide toys to hundreds of children in Bay County in 2012. Now the organization can provide toys to thousands of children in the area and this is what prompts Bondur to do so. every year.